IHSAA Op-ed Regarding Adult Behavior Surrounding High School Athletics

Headline: Parents and Adult Fans: The Biggest Challenge Facing High School Sports


By Karissa Niehoff, Executive Director of the National Federation of State High School 

Associations and Bobby Cox, Commissioner of the Indiana High School Athletic 



Inappropriate adult behavior at high school athletic events in Indiana has reached 

epidemic proportion. 

When more than 2,000 high school athletic directors were asked in a recent national 

survey what they like least about their job, 62.3% said it was “dealing with aggressive 

parents and adult fans.” 

And the men and women who wear the black and white stripes agree. In fact, almost 

80% of officials quit after the first two years on the job, and unruly parents are cited as 

the reason why. As a result, there is a growing shortage of high school officials here in 

Indiana, and in some sports like wrestling, swimming, and track and field, the shortage 

is severe. No officials means no more games.  

If you are a parent attending a high school athletic event this fall, you can help by 

following these six guidelines:  

1. Act Your Age. You are, after all, an adult. Act in a way that makes your family and 

school proud.

2.Don’t Live Your Life Vicariously Through Your Children. High school sports 

are for them, not you. Your family’s reputation is not determined by how well your 

children perform on the field of play. 

3.Let Your Children Talk to the Coach Instead of You Doing It for Them. High 

school athletes learn how to become more confident, independent and capable,

but only when their parents don’t jump in and solve their problems for them. 

4. Stay in Your Own Lane. No coaching or officiating from the sidelines. Your 

role is to be a responsible, supportive parent—not a coach or official. 

5.Remember, Participating in a High School Sport Is Not About Getting 

a College Scholarship.  According to the NCAA, only about 2% of all high 

school athletes are awarded a sports scholarship, and the total value of the 

scholarship is only about $18,000.

6. Make Sure Your Children Know You Love Watching Them Play. Do not 

critique your child’s performance on the car ride home. Participating in high school 

sports is about character development, learning and having fun—not winning 

and losing.

Purchasing a ticket to a high school athletic event does not give you the right to 

be rude, disrespectful or verbally abusive. Cheer loud and be proud, but be 

responsible and respectful. The future of high school sports in Indiana is dependent 

on you. 

In addition to Executive Director Niehoff and Commissioner Cox's statement, the 

LHS Athletic Department would like to remind all our school community members 

that playing athletics for Lawrenceburg High School is a privilege, not a right for 

the student athletes.  As representatives of our school we hold them to a higher 

standard of discipline and accountability than the average student.  

We also would like to remind fans of our sportsmanship statement for our Athletic

Department, student-athletes, parents, and all fans attending our contests.

Good sportsmanship between athletes, coaches, game officials, opposing teams, 

and spectators is one of the most important parts of high school athletics. 

Judgment calls made by officials, coaches, and student athletes are made in good 

faith and should be respected. Spectators are encouraged to support your team, 

but asked to refrain from making inappropriate comments or cheers during games.

Lawrenceburg High School hopes you will enjoy the game and show positive support 

for all student athletes.  Please remember that good sportsmanship creates winners for


We thank TigerNation for reading this op-ed and look forward to seeing our adult fans 

model the traits pointed out in this op-ed in the future.

Go Tigers!